PHP RFC: Allow casting closures into single-method interface implementations


This RFC proposes a new method for the Closure class called castTo(). This method would allow developers to create an instance of a class that implements a specified interface and uses the closure as the implementation.


A new method, castTo(), would be added to the Closure class with the following signature (generics added for extra clarity):

 * @template T
 * @param class-string<T> $interface
 * @return T
public function castTo(string $interface): object;

When called on a closure, this method would:

  1. Verify that the specified interface exists and has exactly one method.
  2. Verify that the closure and the method on the interface have compatible signatures.
  3. Create a new instance of an anonymous class that implements the specified interface.
  4. Use the closure as the implementation for the interface's method in the newly created instance.

Example usage:

interface MyInterface {
    public function doSomething(int $x, int $y): int;
$closure = function (int $x, int $y): int {
    return $x + $y;
$instance = $closure->castTo(MyInterface::class);
$result = $instance->doSomething(1, 2);
echo $result; // Output: 3

This feature could be useful in several scenarios where developers need to create lightweight, dynamic, or anonymous class instances that implement a specific interface. Some of the possible use cases include:

  • Testing and mocking: This feature could help create mock objects on-the-fly for unit testing, especially when testing the interaction between objects and their dependencies. By using a closure to implement the interface, developers can quickly create lightweight, tailored mock objects without having to define additional classes.
  • Decoupling through Adapters: In situations where the developer needs to adapt an existing object to a specific interface, this feature can provide a quick and convenient way to create an adapter using a closure without the need for a separate adapter class. This can be particularly helpful when working with external libraries or APIs.
  • Single-method interfaces: For single-method interfaces, this feature could provide a more concise way to create instances that implement the interface, without the overhead of defining a full class. This can lead to more readable and maintainable code when dealing with simple, single-method interfaces.
  • Dynamic behavior: In scenarios where the implementation of an interface needs to be changed at runtime, this feature can help create instances with dynamic behavior. By passing different closures to the castTo() method, developers can quickly create instances with varying behavior while still adhering to the required interfaces. Reciprocally this feature can help create instances implementing runtime-discovered interfaces.
  • Providing a type-safe alternative to the <php>Closure</php> type: instead of typing against the Closure type, developers could declare and use interfaces that have a single __invoke() method. While this is possible already, this is quite rare in practice because it comes at a high syntactic cost for end users, which are then required to define a full class. By allowing to quickly turn a closure into an implementation of such interfaces, the castTo() method would greatly reduce this boilerplate, leading to a wider adoption of type-safe code for closures.

Example 1: Using a closure as a default implementation for a TranslatorInterface

This example demonstrates how to use the castTo() method to create a default implementation for a TranslatorInterface using a closure. It combines this proposal with the first-class callable syntax.

interface TranslatorInterface {
    public function translate(string $message, array $parameters = []): string;
class SomeClass {
    private TranslatorInterface $translator;
    public function __construct(
        TranslatorInterface $translator = null,
    ) {
        $this->translator = $translator ?? strtr(...)->castTo(TranslatorInterface::class);

In this example, a TranslatorInterface is defined with a translate() method. The SomeClass constructor has an optional parameter, $translator, which is an instance of TranslatorInterface.

If no custom implementation of TranslatorInterface is provided during the instantiation of SomeClass, a default implementation is derived using a closure created from the strtr() function.

Example 2: Type-safe alternative to using Closure

Imagine that you have the following function, that takes a closure and two numbers to do some operation on them:

function executeOperation(Closure $operator, int $a, int $b): int {
    return $operator($a, $b);

This example demonstrates how the castTo() method can be used as a type-safe alternative to using the Closure type by creating an interface with a single __invoke() method:

interface OperatorInterface {
    public function __invoke(int $x, int $y): int;
function executeOperation(OperatorInterface $operator, int $a, int $b): int {
    return $operator($a, $b);
$addition = function (int $x, int $y): int {
    return $x + $y;
$multiplication = function (int $x, int $y): int {
    return $x * $y;
$additionOperator = $addition->castTo(OperatorInterface::class);
$multiplicationOperator = $multiplication->castTo(OperatorInterface::class);
$result1 = executeOperation($additionOperator, 3, 5);
$result2 = executeOperation($multiplicationOperator, 3, 5);
echo $result1; // Output: 8
echo $result2; // Output: 15

In this example, an OperatorInterface is defined with a single __invoke() method, which can be used to replace the Closure type on the executeOperation() function. The castTo() method is then used to create instances of the interface, with different behaviors implemented by closures. This approach provides a more type-safe and expressive way to handle closures while adhering to the required interface.

Example 3: Decoupling URI template implementations using adapters

This example demonstrates how the castTo() method can be used to create adapters for decoupling from different implementations of the URI template RFC from the Guzzle, Rize and League projects.

// This interface would live in the consumer's code
interface UriExpanderInterface {
    public function expand(string $template, array $variables): string;
// GuzzleHttp\UriTemplate::expand() is compatible with UriExpanderInterface
$guzzleExpander = GuzzleHttp\UriTemplate::expand(...)
// Rize\UriTemplate::expand() is missing a return type so we need to wrap it
$rizeExpander = (fn (string $template, array $variables): string
    => (new Rize\UriTemplate())->expand($template, $variables)
// League\Uri\UriTemplate::expand() has a quite different signature so we need to adapt it
$leagueExpander = (fn (string $template, array $variables): string
    => (string) (new League\Uri\UriTemplate($template))->expand($variables)
// Usage
function getExpandedUrl(UriExpanderInterface $expander, string $template, array $variables): string {
    return $expander->expand($template, $variables);
$template = "https://example.com/{path}";
$variables = ['path' => 'users'];
$guzzleExpandedUrl = getExpandedUrl($guzzleExpander, $template, $variables);
$rizeExpandedUrl = getExpandedUrl($rizeExpander, $template, $variables);
$leagueExpandedUrl = getExpandedUrl($leagueExpander, $template, $variables);
// The 3 implementations return: "https://example.com/users"

In this example, an UriExpanderInterface is defined with an expand() method. 3 different implementations of the interface are derived using the castTo() method. Finally, the getExpandedUrl() function is defined, which accepts an implementation of UriExpanderInterface and expands a URI template using the provided implementation.

Guzzle, Rize and League URI template instances can be used interchangeably with this function, illustrating the decoupling and flexibility provided by using adapters created with the castTo() method.

Prototype implementation

Using eval() and anonymous classes, it's already possible to create a function that turns a closure into an implementation of a single-method interface. Conceptually, this RFC could be coded this way:

class Closure
    // [...] Closure is an internal class
    public function castTo(self $closure, string $interface): object
        static $cache = [];
        $cacheKey = <compute-key-from-$closure-and-$interface>
        if (isset($cache[$cacheKey])) {
            return $cache[$cacheKey]($closure);
        $method = <name-of-the-method-in-$interface>;
        $signature = <signature-of-$closure>;
        $return = str_ends_with($signature, '): never') || str_ends_with($signature, '): void') ? '' : 'return ';
        $object = eval(<<<PHP
            return new class (\$closure) implements {$interface} {
                public function __construct(private readonly Closure \$closure) {
                public function {$method}{$signature} {
        $cache[$cacheKey] = $object::class;
        return $object;

A working prototype implementation is provided by this package: https://github.com/tchwork/closure-caster/blob/main/src/function.php

Backward Incompatible Changes

This proposal introduces no backward incompatible changes, as it only adds a new method to the Closure class.

Open Issues

  • exact behavior when checks fail
  • behavior of the reflection API on resulting objects
  • would the engine allow implementing this without adding any extra frame in the call stack?

Unaffected PHP Functionality

No existing PHP functionality would be affected by this proposal.

Future Scope

Both ideas are complementary to the one proposed in this RFC.

Proposed PHP Version

This RFC targets PHP version 8.3.


The vote will require a 2/3 majority to be accepted. Voting will start on [Vote start date] and end on [Vote end date].

rfc/allow_casting_closures_into_single-method_interface_implementations.txt · Last modified: 2023/04/25 19:36 by nicolasgrekas